Where We Live, How We Living…

The event was free, always a good reason to show up anywhere, for anything, and be seen.
But this one was special, as advertised, free, nothing about that marketing selling strategy: x$, more at the door, the latter always an incentive to get your tickets early…).
So on arrival at the venue it was simply a matter of walking in and joining in one or another conversation as guests socialized and organizers awaited the arrival of other panelists.
So it’s only fall, but a relatively light first snowfall of the season – the winter season – was ongoing, as a reminder of what’s to come. But no reason for anyone, especially winter-seasoned folk, not to brave the elements… for a good reason, something different and rare: to talk about matters of community import.
[Never mind that December 21, first day of winter stuff; in my estimation the official start of winter 2018-19 began overnight last Thursday into Friday, November 16. To say it was inclement weather that day… evening would be overstating that first taste of winter hoopla; life went on as usual.]
Those who knew about the event and wanted to be there were. Others who knew and didn’t show (I refer to them as the disinterested) had other, I imagine, more important things to do.
They don’t mind going out on a Friday evening—after all it’s the beginning of the weekend—at this time of year, notwithstanding a little snow, but not to listen to people talk… Which is okay, especially when drinks are flowing, along with loud talking, music and dancing…
So that particular evening, the incentive was commitment, interest, conversing… exchanging of ideas; weather was not a factor, particularly on the part of the panelists, two of whom travelled great distances to be there. Both had to cross bridges from south of the city (South Shore…) and north of the city (North Shore Laval). And despite the weather made it to the venue.
Commitment and interest, on both sides, right there.
Once the panelists had all arrived, ‘Exploring our place in Quebec and Canada,’ the name of the event was on.
It wasn’t an overflow crowd by any stretch, but snowfall be damned, a respectable crowd was present to listen to the six Montrealers of diverse backgrounds and professions discuss [some of the] issues of importance to us – immigration, the current state of the community, refugees, rootedness…
And the six panelists set the tone, beginning with their individual and brief personal introductions. They then engaged in an extended discussion about the need for communities to interact with one another, because as diverse as they may be, they all have so much in common. Especially in a place like Quebec, where people who are not of pure laine stock are essentially marginalized, regardless of how long they’ve called Quebec home.
Another key subject was the sorry state of our [Black community, particularly with its “lack of institutions,” one that always elicits much talk, for obvious reasons.
As young people who have received a good education graduate, engage in futile job hunting and see no future in Quebec to build careers, they simply do the natural thing, pack their bags and go seek those proverbial green… greener pastures.
We all know some of them who, with their French language skills, are gainfully employed outside Quebec.
And as one panelist suggested, unlike others that are closely knit and identified and bound by cultural… ethnic designation, they saw the need to build institutions to safeguard their culture in a place where linguistic conformity and norms are the de facto reality.
For all our community without institutions is currently worth, it’s an ongoing decrease of our value and influence as a community. Out of sight of mind.
Perhaps the young folk saw the disappearing community – and no future and left. A community without tangible institutions, and not to mention a lack of cohesion, is one without a future.
We’ve seen just about everything we once regarded as community institutions disappear. Hence the old aphorism “Out of sight, out of mind.”
That in mind, after being present in that venue and listening to the conversation, I believe, as suggested, it’s time to get people to gather to engage in serious conversation regarding the future of our community. For all who are concerned at all, we simply cannot dance our lives away. Talk, if the right people are doing it, is not always cheap.
We still have a place here.